To Use JPEG Or HEIC? That Is The Question


Apple has replaced the JPEG image format with HEIC. The change happened with iOS 11.

We have seen more and more press on High Efficiency Image Format (HEIC is the acronym Apple uses for High Efficiency Image Format because technically Apple implements a container approach. This is too technical for this post to discuss, but suffice it to say, if you are on a Mac you can use HEIC and HEIF interchangeably.) It seems like the focus on photography connected to iPhone 11, users are beginning to ask more questions about the new format.


The idea behind HEIC is that it uses less storage space. The compression algorithm in HEIC is boded on next-gen technology and delivers similar quality to JPEG but takes up half the space.

There are other advantages to HEIC. It supports 16-bit deep color. That means you won’t see banding in your images that were common with 8-bit images.


If you are on a Mac running HighSierra or later, than the HEIC files will open for you just like JPEG files. If you have an older machine, you can find apps that will convert your file. iMazing comes to mind. There are others.

Windows users must install additional software to be able to read HEIC files. You will need to install HEIF Image Extensions from the Windows Store. Once installed, no more problem. But it’s not automatic like it is on the newer Macs.


We tested some images from our iPhone 11 Pro Max by looking at the JPEG v. HEIC pictures and frankly, we couldn’t tell the difference. Oddly enough we liked the HEIC better than the RAW images we got using camera apps like Moment. Given the smaller file size and the quality being equal, we are advising people to use HEIC. There seems to be no downside.

As always, your mileage may vary.

NOTE: Works on all iPhones running iOS 11 or later.

Image Credits: ESA/Hubble.

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Scott Bourne

Scott Bourne (ASINWP) is a professional wildlife photographer, filmmaker, author and lecturer who specializes in birds. He’s been involved with photography for more than four decades and his work has appeared in more than 200 publications.

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